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Cita Stelzer Education. (2013) 'Dinner With Churchill Policy-Making at the Dinner Table.'

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  CSPAN    Book TV    Cita Stelzer  Education.  (2013) 'Dinner With  
   Churchill Policy-Making at the Dinner Table.'  

    February 18, 2013
    9:45 - 10:30pm EST  

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have lived with winston churchill for four years and it was wonderful. even though that took place in the frigid archives at churchill college. i'm often asked where i got the idea for still another book on churchill to add the thousands already written. well, i've read many books out this fascinating man and noticed many of his important accomplishments were achieved at dippers. -- at dinners, sometimes at lunches, so i began to wonder why most of the deals struck at the fame now conferences held during world war 2 were made at or facilitated by i.d. at which the leaders were more relaxed than at formal sessions. so i began digging into the churchill archives. not only did i find menus to for the most famous dinner with presidents roosevelt and truman and stalin, but detailed of churchill carefully setting the
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stage for dins with heirs generals, political friendses fs and foes, lead can academics, and very often included members of his family, and staged these is the right term because he loved to perform at these affairs help loved company. he loved the attention he got, and more important wooed his guest. at one dinner he described a naval battle using wine glasses and decan't temperatures to show the position of the ship and blowing smoke from his cigar to imitate the cannon fire. it would have been wonderful to have been there the topics were wide-ranging, hot and cold bath taps, tank treads, floethe harbors, movies, that hamilton woman was a great favorite of churchill's, and of course, politics. his curiosity was boundless.
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many of his guests wrote to friends or recorded the their diaries his conversations, repeated as anecdotes and commented on the food he served in addition i found hundreds huf bills for dinners he gave at the london hotels, which guest lists, amendment wine lists, many letters from churchill complain about overbilling, thank this friends for gifts and arranging generous tips for the hotel waiter, all in the archives, all set out in my book. i have produced many of the menus in my book. in case any of you want to try to duplicate one of to two of them at a special party. the wine list might be harder to replicate since so many decade have passed. i also noted his musical choices should you be in the mood to hire a band for your party, your churchill party. i wrote about all of this because they shed light on the care churchill took to make these meals productive, to sell
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his policies. they also show how he his staff struggled to meet his requirements in such places as tehran, casa blanca and yalta. i describe his choice of and use of cigars cigars to prolong aftn are discussions much research told me what he ate and what he drink and with whom and how he interreacted with staff and the british people during the war. somehow my hero turned to reality. a human being with definite reactions. very negative reactions, to white house cooking, to mixed cocktails served by hosts to him across the world to cheap cigars which the u.s. military tried to get away with giving him. to arguments from his generals. and to diet warnings and suggestions from his wife. these were largely ignored. especially the one that involved his eating only tomatoes. as i dug into all these materials it became clear to me that for someone with
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churchill's great conversational skill and his ability to create a congenial setting, he had an advantage for most meetings. they could be as long as he liked and in the case of dinner could run would the wee hours. >> his daughter mary reported dinner conversations often became to extended that mealtimes prolonged themselves far into the afternoon or inning, with luncheons lasting sometimes until half past 3:00, a typical evening, at checkers, which is the prime minister's country house -- would begin at 8:30 with champagne in the drawing room. dinner would last from 9:00 to 10:00, 10:00. then cigars after the ladies were excused. when the menned a rejoined the ladies 20 minutes or a half hour later a movie would be shown, even in wartime, until midnight, when churchill would announce, now, to work. and he would dictate and work until 2:00 or 3:00 in the
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morning. and the next morning he would wake at 7:00 a.m. to start work again in bed, surrounded by staff and military personnel until lunch. the more i read the reports of these meals by those lucky enough to attend them, the clearer it became to me these were working meals. not social occasions. although churchill hugely enjoyed temple he did love company. churchill used those hours spent at the table to educate others about his policies persuade them to go along and learn from his guests late political and social gossip and get news from around the world. remember there was no 24-hour news cycle in those days so private report office well-placed guests were offer the best source of what was going on in, say, the soviet union. his guests came from all walks of life, although during the war they were mainly military and politics, british and american. and when churchill felt he could tolerate it, he once in a while
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had to dine with charles degaulle. but there was always a purpose to the dinners to advance the donarys there purpose, to explaining cajole, it was the conversation that mattered. the setting, the table and the food were the stage on which he could best perform. here are two examples of dipper is with important purposes and outcomes. you, december 1941, more about this later. and a second important dinner was august 1942 when churchill, after several long,ual growling and dangerous flights to avoid german fighters, flew to moscow to meet stalin for the first time. churchill had to bring a message that there would be no second front, an allied front stalin wouldn't. churchill took averill hariman
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with him. and then churchill was invited to the kremlin. just the two men and their interpreters, serving themselves no servants in the kremlin, enough for 30 people, topped off with a pig's head. stalin opened his pen knife, cleaned out he head, scraped out a piece of meat which the offered to churchill on the end of this notice. churchill politely refused, not able to show his disgust but commenting later to his doctor that the food was filthy. that's a quote. no matter, churchill got what he wanted. stalin agreed the allied strategy. let me spend a few minutes on what i mean when i say that churchill's attention to dewail was stunning. the designed the table at his country home. round, and six feet in diameter. he told his wife to order chairs
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with arms to allow for relaxation. to ease the conversation and permit his guests to be comfortable for long periods of time. and in a letter he wrote, quote, one does not want the dining room chair spreading itself or its arms-a-it were a plant. she, in like vain, quote, digested his dissertation. he always planned the seating to make sure the conversation flowed. in my book there's an excerpt from his lock memo -- long memo on the proper design of a dining room. so if you have in mind redoing your own dining room, let me know and iol get you a copy of his memo in 1909 the newlywed churchills bought a house in london. his mother deck rated it and churchill added a dining room at the back of the house. they employed a cook, two maids and a butler. a very good buy agographer said
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of churchill, quote, he was not mostly good bilateral conversation but at the table he was brilla. if i could dine with stalin once a week there would be no trouble, churchill says. the british some commonwealth countries had been at war for over a year. when pearl harbor was attacked. churchill knew that the u.s. would be at war and wanted to ensure that america would not concentrate on fighting japan first instead of fighting hitler in europe. churchill decided to travel to washington to meet with roosevelt and move into the white house for three week. was this the beginning of a special relationship? perhaps. now the british had a formidable ally. when churchill lived with roosevelt in the white house sharing every meal -- but not breakfast chair agreed to establish a combined chiefs of staff. military staff from each of the
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services book forth with their counterparts. , all policies and strategies would be shared between the two countries. seems to me these dinners were immensely important. they set up the structure that would prosecute the war to a successful conclusion. it's agreed by almost everyone at the roosevelt white house that the cook, not chef in those days -- was the worst cook in history. menus included chipped beef on toast with mushrooms, boiled broccoli, bavarian cream pie, molded yellow salad, out of fashion fooleds that today surely and were still by all accounts badly prepared. even fdr complained about her food but she was kept in the job. no wonder president roosevelt looked forward to his famous children's hour, the time when he micked and served his before-dinner lethal martinis,
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churchill was on his best behavior so he could not have complained about the food or the milk cocktails, although one sores sauce they saw the prime minister empty his martini glass into a nearby potted plant. another said he spit out the olives. churchill's only comment on white house food came when pressed for his point of the president's favorite pig knuckle. he found they were a bit slimy. british guests having lived with rationing at home ate like mad in the white house. sometimes two meals at once. caring to mrs. necessary -- two eagles in the morning. in britain the british got one agency per week the cook served chicken a la king twice a week. but churchill did not like the chicken messed about with.
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one quick word about churchill's cook. she cooked for the churchill family in the 1930s, and moved with churchill into downing street and stayed with the family until 1953. when churchill was again prime minister. she was a superb and more important an unflappable cook. she knew what churchill like and she cooked it for him, unlike ms. nesbitt. despite the bombing of london and she changes plans and guests she took care of churchill and called that, quote, her world work. now, churchill was at least -- was a leaf that did not fall far from the tree. his mother has been a much admired society host cities in london. she was famous for inviting known political enemies to denar and seating them so as to facilitate discussions. churchill once praised hi mothers by saying in his
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interest she, quote, had left no cutlet uncooked. churchill must have learn from her early on how to manage a dinner for his own purposes. in the book, i describe how he deployed this skill this, attention to detail. at his birthday party dinner tehran in 1943, he arranged the seating himself. at pots dam he had his staffers construct a table that could accommodate the 28 guests he had chosen. he then had his staff sit down at the table to see how close together or far apart the guests would be. imagine the staff person putting their el low0s out like this, watching churchill for his approval to make sure the seating was the way he wanted it. at this important dinner churchill would be meeting with president trumanan for the first time. churchill amended the menu to add another course. ham salad. nobody knows what he had in mind when he added that course to the
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menu. a further thought. on interpreters. should they sit in between or slightly behind the par tis pants? churchill decided to place the interpreters slightly behind, not at the dinner table. this arrangement once again facilitated the conversation. let me add a few words about what this rather rotund man liked to eat. the answer is churchill liked plain, simple food, perfectly cooked. no french sauces. no fancy pies. churchill did not like his chicken messed about with. his favorite meal would be clear constance may or turtle soup, never cream. had to be, quote, limpif d. perhaps smoked salmon, meat, roast chicken, game enough season or rare roast beef, dewas, after all, english. and for dessert, what he called
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his pudding, ice cream and perhaps chocolate sauce and then a peeled pear. another word on constance consumee. he would say, soup, out loud. that was the signal the working day was over. the sects could leave to type up then day's memos and he would have his cop assume yi which he always ate before going to bed. churchill loved all game, especially goose. at one dinner as the roasted goose was laid in front of him he said, quote, you carve. this goose was a friend of mine...
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>> he had his meals according to his taste, not according to the clock. there is a wonderful photo in my book shilling churchill enjoying a picnic, sitting on a rock by the side of the road. he picnicked with roosevelt at hyde park. he picnicked on the banks of the brian with his genitals, and on the north african desert. he established his own picnicked rituals, and enthusiastically seeing old indian army generals and citing verses that could only be recited at picnics. much has been written about him and alcohol. some of them are true, some of them are exaggerated. i go into detail about churchill's drinking habits. he had been told many have said
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that he was a drunk. he did consume more alcohol than some, but not a great deal more than the standards of his contemporaries. it did not affect him or his work. he drank a small amount of whiskey with soda, no ice, and a glass about this big. staff called it mouthwash. he drank a half bottle of champagne, a different size and we know, smaller half bottles today, as well as a brandy or two. let's talk about champagne. his favorite drink. we are not sure when he discovered that champagne, but he preferred rosé to all the others. his favorite vintage was from 1928.
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[inaudible] the meltdown ordered that all have a black mourning band stripped across the bottle. every dinner an important occasion in his life was marked with champagne. after dinner, he drank brandy. he drink it neat. he drank brandy and not poor. early in his life, a doctor had recommended brandy instead of ports. this is one of the first times that he follow the doctor's orders. he was always patting his stomach when he talked about his indigestion, something that he suffered from occasionally. by modern standards, this is
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quite a large amount of alcohol. the churchill was never incapacitated. i have read many journals and diaries of the people who dine with him and many agreed that alcohol enhances enjoyment and his phenomenal ability to talk. at one point, he asked hopkins whitewater in his glass to to so funny. opposite and what he was used to, hopkins told him it was because it had no whiskey in it. [laughter] that he had been prime minister during the war we met minister of defense if he had been incapacitated? i think not. only two people thought that churchill was worse for wear for alcohol. one was a staff member reporting this on, he told them what stalin wanted here and the second was a private secretary to anthony eden. churchill would never have been able to work as he did for so many years and so successfully that alcohol had taken hold of
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him. he very much enjoyed the legend of his drinking and boasted of the amounts that he consumed, yamato had in which he indulged is a tough british bulldog who could drink with the best of them down at the pub or the local, as it's known in britain. another churchill favorite was cigars. he had three uses for them. he enjoyed the feeling of relaxation that a smoke brings. it was somewhat of a trademark. he was too shrewd a politician not to realize that a cigar had become an iconic symbol of his grit in the face of adversity. just as fdr had the cigarette holder and it became his symbol.
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a cigar clenched between his hand as he we've got the crowd, it showed that he and britain were indomitable. after dinner, a good cigar was passed around. he would count on another few hours of good talk at a time when others were exhausted but he was at his best. this was not always appreciated by the war weary admirals and generals that were often included on his guest lists. but all in all, it was a part of dinner with him that the most treasured and remembered and wrote about. there is a wonderful story about cigars and his personal security in my book. but it is too long to go into tonight. i do hope that you will read it. a word about rationing.
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during the war years, food and other commodities were strictly rationed. how did churchill manage? well, first while he played by the the rules of his own government. for each dinner, he requested extra rations, listing the guests and what was required for every dinner. his staff needed extra rations so the prime minister to get a summer weight suit for his trip to casablanca to meet with president roosevelt. any ration coupons that were unused or return to the government. the british people suffered under rationing, and churchill wanted them to see that he, too, was subject to the lawsuit. but he did benefit from gifts from fans around the world. some sent home grown foods, others then fish from their streams or cheeses made on their farms. president roosevelt sent food
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parcels. there was a case of plum brandy sent. of course, thousands of cigars from all over the world. churchill worried about the effects of rationing on the people's energy levels from their diets, their morale and spirit. he worried about everything. no detail was too trivial. for example, he worried that british bees would not get enough sugar to provide honey. and he declared his policies but of the utmost. supplies of vinegar remained stable for chips or french fries come as we called them. i do hope that you will read my book with much new information about the wit and wisdom of
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churchill. there is also a very funny story and they are so complicated, you must read it to understand it. i bring to light the two sides of the man, i hope, and what he did in his country's interest in the human side of churchill. he is huge enjoyment of life, his exuberance and charm. his energy and capacity for work. his kindness and humor. his courtesy is in generosity's with his friends. [inaudible] churchill was such a great man. thank you. [applause]
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>> i must mention to everyone that in order to get your questions answered, please wait until you are recognized. the microphone will come to you. okay? okay. >> are there any questions or comments? >> yes? >> okay. thank you so much. welcome to arizona. you made a reference about stalin in the west. as i understand it in 1942, the americans and british open up the front in north africa and push the germans out of north africa and then began an invasion of sicily. was stalin referring to an invasion of northern france when he said a second front? was their intense dinner
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conversations on this topic where they really got into the meat of it? >> [inaudible] they knew that there would not be a second front in europe in 1942. that is what they then had to go and sell to stalin. the first night of that meeting, he was very unhappy and the dinner ended on a sour note. the second night with 70 or 80 people, and i was different. churchill said, there cannot be one. so i would have to agree. >> the time of engagement was 1943? >> yes. >> i noticed on wikipedia, there was a mention about the fact that churchill had actually moved into the white house for
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three weeks and i just found out unbelievable. that could've been a lot of fun times. but you said when you have talked that there were two dinners and two events and one of them involved the white house in 1941. >> the year you are referring to, yes, churchill in great personal danger took a ship to washington. landed two days before christmas and move into the white house and stayed there for three weeks. with an exception of a the canada speech and a few days in florida. he lived in the lincoln bedroom in the white house. mrs. roosevelt was not thrilled with this arrangement. because she said that winston kept franklin up too late. winston kept everybody up late.
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it wasn't just the president. there are some wonderful stories about what people thought of that. and the stories about the cooking as well. they are very funny. >> i think it's fascinating that he was able to actually leave england. it's like in today's world, the president obama goes over to hawaii for four or five days. everybody goes crazy. >> well, when president obama -- [inaudible] in that trip that they took in december. [inaudible] >> yes? >> it's not a question, but just a comment. i was reading about how much they were eating, and he had access with the rationing. so it redeemed him. i'm glad you put that there.
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but i kind of wish it was earlier so that i didn't get upset all the time. [laughter] >> yes, it was an important chapter. it showed a part of his character that was very important. as many other people have this in common. >> yes? >> he was known for being a poor money manager. all of the menus that he planned in the food that he thought, did he find bills that he actually paid for everything? most of those i have seen are stamped paid. >> yes, they are stamped paid and all of the important it is that he had -- i'm not quite
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sure when the dinner was someone was paid. you bring up an interesting point. but they are all stamped as paid. all of the bills are saved. not just a few of them. there are hundreds of them. everything is saved at the archives. >> [inaudible question] >> i think he knew that equal allies are no longer true and that the americans really should have eisenhower as leader. the number of army people that
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we had, it had to be that way. >> thank you very much. [applause] >> booktv is on facebook. like us and interact with our guests and viewers and watch videos and get up-to-date information on events. facebook.com/booktv. >> i have been trying to find a new lens and way of setting presidential character. for example, i wrote a book on the first lady about 12 years ago, and i felt it would be important to understand the presidents from a different angle. that is, why not study the person that knew them the best. for example, what possibly could i as a historian contribute to the body of knowledge on lincoln or george washington? pretty much everything that could be written probably has been written. the greatest historians have spent years poring through the
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letters and the evidence to produce this in the hundreds of books on washington. historians have largely ignored the role of the first lady as they largely ignored the role of mr. singh in shaping the man. in setting the first lady, the first thing that thomas jefferson said -- the first thing he did as when shopping for his wife. he missed her. she was pregnant, and she had
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had a miscarriage. he bought her some gloves. he served her for the rest of the summer so he could go home to my monticello to be with his wife. while george washington was suffering at valley forge, there was martha washington with her white bonnet. we get new insight from the president and others. another chapter discusses hamilton's history of womanizing. bill clinton was not the first and he's not the worst. john edwards, these guys, they have nothing on alexander hamilton. we'll be fine, he said.
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she didn't complain about one thing. [inaudible] i did read a book called life in the white house, and it was about the president at ease. what are their fears and hopes and what are they like as fathers and husbands. another way of providing us a glimpse into presidential character. he sometimes wore a black suit to do this.
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the affairs of state, i have tried to take a different perspective. we all know about george washington. we study washington with brilliant and delaware on christmas night during the revolution. we find that the teenage washington, on more than one occasion, basically goes back home in fear because he puts pen to paper and he writes. he once wrote a poem in yet another girl turned him down.
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we all understand and know that our country's leaders have been shaped by the hand of a woman, often the mother, and i'm here to tell you that sometimes it is we take this program -- is a legend of fairness alleged misbehavior. related to the book, what my thought was is during world war ii, general eisenhower is having a long-term affair with an attractive young british driver. imagine if eisenhower's affair came out during world war ii.
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one with a personal aide in secretary and [inaudible] the dresser and undress her as well. what we found out about this misbehavior, and what we threw him out of office. a very young george washington was writing very romantic letters to a woman who is not mrs. washington. her name was sally fairfax. they're attractive, older, sophisticated and the neighbor. one of his letters had become public during the french and indian war and the revolutionary
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war. there's a long history of it. even abraham lincoln visited a prostitute. i know, say it isn't so. but it happened. lincoln was allegedly homely and awkward and unromantic. he was invited to work at the
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general store and steven have a place to stay, so lincoln was supposed to stay upstairs. he was using the services of a professional woman. if you imagine lincoln upstairs trying to mind his own business, we can basically says, have to have a woman. and here is what appears to have happened. it appears that he asked for a letter of introduction. but we have pieced together is maybe $3 difference, which is a lot of money. and the prostitute currently charges them $5. which was an enormous amount
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money. once she said you could pay me later where this depends, she ran out the door. in this case, there is not a happy ending. even with abraham lincoln. what i thought i would do in the main body of my remarks is tell a couple of my favorite stories. more importantly about presidential character. many involve our 24th and
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important president, grover cleveland. he fathered a child out of wedlock. she might have been a prostitute. cleveland was a bachelor. fathering a child seem like the thing to do at a time. a group of very righteous preachers started a campaign that no woman in the country would not pay attention here. it became a huge story because they wouldn't it would let it go. one of the things that faced him
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as it turned out that genes likely had more affairs than cleveland and his wife gave birth about six months after they got married. so blame was keeping on this condemnation. one thing we dislike more than politicians is a hypocritical politician. the other thing is the republicans push these issues. there is a song, there's a little jingle, they would say mother, where's my father, pretending that they were little orphans. cleveland finally completed that song by saying gone to the white house, ha ha. grover cleveland, his best
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friend, well, cleveland was born in new jersey and spent most of his time with his friend who were law partners. it also enjoyed the services of maria together. she gets pregnant and has a son. and neither knew who the father was. maria competent things by naming the child oscar cleveland. he had been married and had a daughter. here is where the other part of the scandal comes in. oscar dies a few years